I came out of a two-hour meeting yesterday to find my phone had exploded with messages about I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
The former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been revealed as the latest guest to go on the programme.
And as one of the few politicians in the country to have done I’m A Celebrity before, people wanted to know if I thought it was a good idea or not.
Twenty-four hours on, there is pretty universal agreement across the public debate that it’s not.
Timing is everything, not least in politics.
It therefore feels like an even braver and riskier decision for him to take in the midst of the current economic crisis, caused largely by the decisions his party and his government has taken.
Even more uniquely for Matt Hancock, it sits against the backdrop of the UK Covid Inquiry.
Many campaigners who lost loved ones during the pandemic are particularly angered by his decision.
They don’t want him setting out his side of the argument in a book he’s planning to publish before the Christmas rush, let alone on prime-time TV from the other side of the world.
They want him in front of a Parliamentary committee and that’s completely understandable.
He’s doing it though.
And given we know he’s already in Australia I suspect he can no longer see or hear any of the public debate about his decision.
The British public voting for Matt Hancock to do every Bushtucker Trial x pic.twitter.com/iUaQftCFIN
— Steven Bonaventure x (@absolutegazelle) November 1, 2022
That’s probably a good thing given the intensity of it.
Here’s what Matt Hancock can expect from I’m A Celebrity
When I arrived in Brisbane in late November 2017, I was met by a chaperone who immediately took my mobile phone off me.
I wasn’t to speak to or phone anyone for the next 48 hours.
These were spent in a hotel whose name I still couldn’t tell you.
It was over those 48 hours that I was fitted out with all my jungle gear.
I also had lots of different briefings about what to expect, including from a doctor.
He was keen to highlight that no matter how hungry we were, we should not attempt to kill anything in order to eat it.
Everything got very real very quickly.
The next morning I was put in car with blacked out windows.
By that I mean it was a jeep with bin bags sellotaped into the inside so I couldn’t see where I was going, so secret was the location.
I was driven for a good hour and a half to the campsite.
The final 30 mins very much off road and up a hill.
After a bit of waiting and faffing around, I found myself straight into live TV and about to race the TV presenter Iain Lee through some fish guts in front of Ant and Dec.
Hancock might learn how the other half live
The warning about hunting was a good one.
Living off 600 calories a day was hard for this sturdy lass and the weight dropped off me.
I lost a stone in 10 days.
A wild turkey walked into the campsite one night. And I pondered the thought of turkey stew for more than a second or two.
My most memorable encounter with an animal though was an encounter with a giant frog.
I’d got up to use the “dunny” in the night. This meant a trip of about 100ft up an unlit dirt track.
Because it had rained constantly, the dirt and mud obscured a humongous frog which I basically stood on.
To say I got a fright is an understatement.
But in fairness it was nothing like the fright the frog got.
If it’s any consolation at all, which I expect it’s not, Matt Hancock can expect to spend the next however many weeks cold, damp and hungry.
I wonder if he’s ever felt those things before in his life?
Is it possible he might get the slightest insight into what millions of his fellow citizens will experience this winter?